As gyms and playing fields reopen, experts have provided some handy tips for those looking to get back to training.
Emma Barraclough, product owner at Chelsea FC nutritional products and fitness app company Blue Fuel, said: “Covid-19 has hugely impacted the way athletes have been training and eating, especially team sport players, and with this comes the effect of deconditioning which can lead to various issues if you jump straight back into how you used to train.
“Athletes need to ease their way back into fitness and with this comes the importance of the correct nutrition; and that’s why we believe a tailored solution is needed because each athlete is different and so the nutrition needs to match the individual.”
Sam Quek, Olympic & European Gold medallist for Hockey, who is also an ambassador for Blue Fuel, said: “I wish there was something like this when I started out. Technology now allows us to do so much more. My advice as people get back out there? Don’t overdo it in the first few weeks to avoid injury and make sure to fuel themselves properly too!”
Research of more than 1,000 adults commissioned by Blue Fuel found that team sport players cared less about their nutrition intake whilst in quarantine, with 40 per cent limiting the amount of sport nutrition products they used.
Faced with the worry of not being up to ‘match fitness’ when sports re-start again, the Blue Fuel study also found that 43 per cent of team sport players have felt motivated to keep training during this period so that they feel ready for when competitive games start up again, coined as the Skype Shredders and Isolation Sensations! But more than half of team sport players didn’t do any training over lockdown, highlighting themselves as Furlough Formers.
8 tips for getting back into training after lockdown from Lee Bell, qualified personal trainer and Blue Fuel ambassador
Ease yourself in gently
You might be super enthusiastic about getting back into training after a long time off, but you’re only going to do yourself a disservice if you go all in too hard, too fast. It’s the easiest way to cause injury. Try starting at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before the pandemic. So, say you previously ran 10k before lockdown, plan on covering 5k at a slower pace than you maintained before. For weight training, try limiting yourself to three days a week for the first two weeks to give all of your tissues time to adapt to the higher-than-normal load you’re placing on them. We know that match fitness is a completely different kind of fitness too, so make sure you ease yourself into it – a good way of doing this is integrating interval sprints into your workout routine.
Don’t skip the warm up
If you’ve neglected training for some time, put an even greater emphasis than normal on your warm up. Your body is going to need it more than ever. Doing little exercises (knee bends, heel to buttock stretches) will get that synovial fluid flowing in your joints and greasing up the engine before you put it through its paces.
Don’t just pick up where you left off
Your body will need time to get back to where it was – and that’s what pre-season training is all about! You won’t automatically be in the same shape you were before lockdown, so don’t attempt to just pick up just where you left off. Furthermore, when you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass, which leaves you more susceptible to leg and back injuries. Integrating a few basic body weight exercises into your training, such as squats, lunges and hip raises, won’t take long to perform but will help prevent injury.
Retain regular training commitments
If you’ve decided to get into training after a long period of inactivity, try to ensure you stick to a regular workout schedule now you’ve got back to it. The body likes routine and this will help keep injuries at bay.
Don’t forget about flexibility
While it might feel amazing to get those endorphins firing with some super intense HIIT or being thrown back into your favourite sport, try adding some flexibility exercises to your calorie-burning endeavours. While often overlooked in fitness, flexibility can help the body better adjust to the demands of a workout. Try yoga; it’s an excellent way to add flexibility (and stress relief) to all types of fitness.
Nutrition: keep yourself properly fuelled
If you’ve not exercised properly for a while, you’re going to need to ensure you’re properly fueled before, during and after your training sesh. Aim for a dose of simple carbohydrates right before heading out, plenty of water with added electrolytes to take out with you and replenish anything you lose through sweat during exercise, followed by a high-protein supplement on your return. I’d recommend Blue Fuel – an expert sports nutrition service developed with Chelsea FC. It comes with supplement products for before, during and after exercise but works alongside an app that tells you when you need to take each product, depending on the type of exercise or sport you’re doing. Super handy when you’re trying to keep on top of your nutrition needs and fitness goals! Nutrition is personal to each individual, so it’s important that you’re fuelling your body the way it needs to be fuelled, and this is where Blue Fuel can help.
Keep workouts varied
Repetitive load is one of the easiest ways to injure yourself, especially after a period of inactivity. Try balancing your training with cardio, strength and conditioning to ensure workouts are varied to minimise stress and your body will respond better. For example, if you used to do 30 minutes of the treadmill everyday, try doing a more steady 15 minute run alongside 10 minutes on the exercise bike and 5 minutes of body weight exercises.
Have proper rests and recovery
Recovery is not just something performance athletes should take seriously. Everyone should ensure they’re giving their bodies plenty of opportunity for regular rest and recovery. Burnout is possible whatever level you’re training at, especially after a long period of inactivity. Sleep is the best recovery you can get, so aim for 7-8 hours every night